A Sleeper WR Draft Prospect for the Vikings to Have an Eye on

On the day of the draft, I’ve decided to take one last deep dive into one of my favorite sleepers in this class.

This sleeper WR draft prospect has been one of my favorite late-round prospects this whole draft process, and I believe has undeniable upside given the right situation. He may have played for a small school, thus not playing the greatest competition. However, Holy Cross WR Jalen Coker has a real case for steal of the draft.

A Sleeper WR Prospect for the Vikings

Holy Cross’s Jalen Coker hauls in a pass for a first down over Merrimack’s Darion McKenzie in the third quarter Saturday at Fitton Field. Alan Arsenault/Worchester Telegram.

Hailing from Sterling, Virginia and attending high school at Potomac Falls, Coker had a slow start to his collegiate career in 2020, only seeing 3 receptions on 5 targets for a grand total of 67 yards and 1 TD in 3 games played. Business picked up a bit in 2021, where he appeared in 13 games and racked up 714 yards on 51 catches and 4 TDs and a 91.2 passer rating when targeted.

2022 was when Coker really burst on to the scene, even though he played in only 11 games. His yards only jumped up to 852 on 6 less receptions, but he nearly tripled his TD number to 11 and upped his passer rating when targeted to a whopping 141.7. His 2023 campaign would even improve upon that, though still only appearing in 11 games. He produced career highs in receptions (59), yards (1,035), and TDs (15), all while having a passer rating when targeted of 136.0.

Jalen Coker was almost-exclusively a boundary receiver throughout his career, only seeing slot reps in 9.5% of his total career snap count. It is worth noting that in 2023, the best year of his college career, he saw the highest volume of slot reps to date at 18.2% of reps. He had only seen the slot in 6.1% of snaps in his previous three seasons. His 6’3, 213lb frame provides a tantalizing array of possibilities for wide receiver coaches and offensive coordinators alike, especially as a big-slot archetype.

WR Draft Prospect
Holy Cross’ Jalen Coker carries the ball in the FCS quarterfinals against South Dakota State on Saturday, December 10, 2022, in Sioux Falls. Erin Woodiel/Argus Leader

Coker’s reliable hands mixed with knack for ball-tracking contributed to his success at Holy Cross in a big way. His hands are like the perfect pillow, soft with just the right amount of firmness for support. He truly is a super balanced player, with his height, speed, and raw athleticism making him a force for high-balls as well as throws over the top.

Not only is he an issue for defenses before the catch, he has also proven to be effective when gaining additional yards after the catch, averaging an additional 5.1 yards after the catch for his career. 

It’s hard to point out weaknesses in his game, as he hasn’t displayed too many and he hasn’t played the best competition, however, if a one had to be named, there are concerns about his ability to create separation against man coverage, as well his ability to feel-out and sit down in zone coverage.

Mar 2, 2024; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Holy Cross wide receiver Jalen Coker (WO03) during the 2024 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The separation concerns could be influenced heavily by the fact that he faced lesser-competition and he felt comfortable in one-on-one contested catch situations. He is just so tall with an unreal vertical (42.5 inches, tied for the best with Virginia WR Malik Washington among WRs at the NFL Combine this year). 

I do believe that in the late rounds, one NFL team will be more than happy to take a flier on Jalen Coker. He has absolutely undeniable upside, with his height and athleticism being an attractive proposition for any team looking to beef up their receiver room. The main thing working against him is the team he played for and the competition he faced.

If that is the one thing working against a prospect, they may be in pretty good shape. Coker is the textbook definition of low-risk, high-reward and could make one NFL general manager look like an absolute genius this weekend.

Editor’s Note: Statistics for this article were found via NFL Draft Buzz and Pro Football Focus.